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Congo virus kills 15, infects 42 in Herat

Congo virus kills 15, infects 42 in Herat

Aug 28, 2017 - 20:17

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) has killed 15 people in western Herat province this year, with another 42 being treated for the deadly virus, according to officials.

CCHF is a viral disease. Symptoms may include fever, muscle pains, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding into the skin. The CCHF virus is typically spread by tick bites or contact with livestock carrying the disease.

Health officials in Herat advised people to be careful these days due to increased interaction with livestock in the wake of Eidul Adha, when Muslims across the globe slaughter millions of animals.

Public health director in Herat Abdul Hakim Tamana said many people lost their lives to the Congo virus in the province this year.

He said 55 Congo cases were registered in the civil hospital since late March and of the patients, 15 had died. The deceased included seven men and six women, he added.

Tamana said the virus spread from animals and people slaughtering animals should wear gloves.

Syed Mahmood, a livestock farmer, who has contracted Congo virus, said: “When I slaughtered the sheep, its blood covered my hands and later I started falling sick.”

Ahmad Khalil Waez, animal healthcare director, said citizens should be careful while slaughtering animals to avoid contracting the Congo virus.

He said a butcher should used special glasses, coat, gloves, mask and shoes while slaughtering the animal.

People mainly contract the CCHF virus from infected ticks or contact with infected animal blood and tissue.

There are no vaccines available to immunize animals but precautionary measures include disinfection of livestock pens, submerging livestock in solutions for decontamination, and meat packaging safeguards.

The virus has had a presence in neighbouring Iran where the virus killed three people in 2015.

According to the World Health Organization, CCHF's mortality rate is about 30 percent and is endemic to Africa, the Balkans and Ukraine, the Middle East and Central Asia.

CCHF was first detected in the Crimea in 1944 and then in the Congo in 1969. In 2011, it was detected for the first time in ticks in Spain.